Maine was in the glorious throes of autumn when the phone call came. I had just pulled in the driveway of my Old Orchard Beach home. It was my sister.

“It’s Dad.” She said in an urgent voice. “He’s going quickly. I think you need to come home as soon as you can.”

My eyes rested on the dogwood tree aflame with red and yellows. In the distance, the honking of Canada geese were flying in formation, making their miraculous migration to their winter home.

This was the phone call that I dreaded. Dad was dying and, like the geese, I had to go south.

A hastily packed bag was thrown into the trunk, a quick return phone call to my sister and I was off.

The landscape held me as I drove. With its kaleidoscope of colors, crows soaring and red-tailed hawks swooping from tree branches, I made the monotonous drive across the Mass. Pike, down Rt. 84 and across the Tappan Zee Bridge to New Jersey, my childhood home. The bright colored trees of Maine turned into skyscrapers, shopping malls and congested traffic. I prayed for swiftness and safety as I gripped the wheel to be by my father’s side.

Seven hours later, I turned into the familiar driveway. Memories flooded me with emotions; Dad smiling at me when I came home to visit, Dad teaching me to drive, biting his tongue as I scattered stones under the spinning wheels, Dad nodding approval when I told him that I was moving to Maine.

“You can always come home.” He said, waving from the front step when I moved out.

Looking up towards the bedroom window on the second floor where he lay waiting, I knew that he was right.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Read more stories from Maine at www.centralmaine.com/meetinghouse

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